Why I don’t like the reputation of Ivy institutions

By: Irene Cohen

Ivy league universities are apart of an athletic conference which consists of eight institutions: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. They are considered the most prestigious colleges that one can attend in the US, with the highest acceptance rate being 8.7% and the lowest 3.9%.

The Ivy league produces some of the most influential people in the world, such as Supreme Court Justices, whose members all attended either Harvard or Yale.

However, for the majority of the people who get into these Ivies, they did not get there solely out of merit. Many of those who get into the undergraduate programs attended preparatory schools, or boarding schools, that cost a small fortune. These schools are a sort of feeder school, helping students specifically to get into these schools and helping them with connections, something the average American high school doesn’t have access to.

With the Ivies and their feeder schools costing so much, you may be wondering how families afford this. The answer is, because they’re rich. The median family income for undergraduate families of Harvard students was 3 times the median US household income. Dartmouth disproportionately accepts wealthy applicants, with one fifth of their student body coming from the top 1% in the country. The top 1% are households that make $630,000 or more a year. They are one of the few schools in the nation that has more undergraduates from the top 1% than the entire bottom 60%.

As if that wasn’t enough, they accept legacies at a much greater rate than non legacy students. Those who are legacies, which is anyone with family members who attended these schools in the past, have up to a 5 times greater chance of getting into the school.

All these components of privilege leave a sour taste in my mouth. I think it’s extremely inequitable to consider these schools the peak of education when most US high schoolers have a very slim chance of getting accepted, regardless of how well they perform in school, their intelligence, or their work-ethic. This country needs to stop putting these schools on such a high pedestal.

For more information, please visit:

  • income stats: https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/1/25/harvard-income-percentile/
  • legacy acceptance rates: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/07/harvards-freshman-class-is-more-than-one-third-legacy.html

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